Episode 110. Ford C-Max. FD04 NLX. (Part 3).

For one last time, let's talk about this junk...

As it happens, I have actually come out on top, when from the beginning, when it broke down within about ten minutes of me owning it I thought I'd been dealt a losing hand. My mechanic friend did get it to a point where it was running properly. But it was the four nearly new tyres that it wore that really put me on top, as these have gone on to replace the bald tyres on what is now the eyebrow-less Mrs Clints Focus CC. But, we've already talked about that, so back to the C-max.

It is safe to say that I am not a fan, but in my earlier posts about it perhaps I have been too harsh. It is not that it's a bad car as such, it's just that this particular one feels very well used, and very playworn. Added to that, it's just not my cup of tea. I'm not a people carrier fan, there's a couple on my list of cars to own at some point, but not many. But having talked to various C-max owners they clearly fall into two camps. Those that love them, and those that loathe them. Those that love them generally seem to use them as tools. A painter and decorator I know has one, and he's taken out the seats, and uses it as a van. There's a lady who lives down the road who delivers for my Herpes, she has one, and has also taken out the seats, loads it up with her parcels and uses it as a van. Several Mums I know have them, and they really enjoy them because they can load them up with kids, and haul them wherever they need to go. This is exactly what it was designed for, although, I can't see that it's much better than a regular Focus estate as it's still only got five seats. But perhaps its the added headroom, and perhaps the slightly higher driving position that makes them better for them than a regular estate car? I dunno.

Then there's the other camp, those that loathe them. One of my friends upon seeing it said that I was the inspiration to us mere compromising mortals, and demanded that I sold it immediately and bought something wholly inappropriate impractical and awesome! I'm not too sure how serious he was, but I felt that he meant it! To be fair, a lot of the people who didn't like it had never owned one, or, own them not out of choice, but out of necessity. I talked to a few young Dads who had them, and their reason for buying them seemed to be along the lines of, "I've got kids now, so I had to buy a people carrier" My response to this was, why? To which they said that thats the type of car you drive when you've got a family!! Erm... Well, I've got a family, admittedly theres only four of us, but still, some of these parents only have one child, and yet still feel the need to drive a five seater C-max. Odd, but even odder than that was the lack of imagination these people had. It's like they've read a book on parenting, and in the chapter about cars it just said, buy a people carrier, and they've gone, OK, and bought one without giving any thought to it. I admit, that where cars for families are concerned, I am probably not the right person to ask. My children have had to suffer the confines of coupés and pick ups from the day they were born, however offered the chance to ride in the C-max, a car with plenty of room in the back, they both declined. My littlest Monster did actually ride in it, but it was only because I collected her from her friends house in it. After that, there was no getting her back into to it. My biggest monster just took one look at it outside of BelongaClint, and said, No Dad, I'm not going in that crap!

So that's that, I wonder, due to talking to those who don't like their C-max if the problem is not the C-max its self, but the lack of the owners imagination that brought them to becoming C-max owners? I mean, like I said before, it's not an inherently bad car it's just that for me, I find it to be very dull, and my feeling is that the people who've bought them because apparently thats what you do when you have a family, find them to be very dull too. To be fair, these people do all seem to be young Dads, and perhaps I should've questioned them further to find out what they drove before they became parents. I wonder if they were coupé, and sportier type car drivers, and now they find the confines of a small people carrier to be not of their liking. I guess to some extent this is my problem. The car its self is fine, it's just not what I am used to, or not what I like. It's me that's the problem. I am now wondering if I used it like a van, and took out the rear seats etc to load up with my tools and what not, would I find it better if I just treated it like a tool, would I be happy? The added headroom,and the rear side doors would make it quite a good van, although you can't get anything big like a motorcycle in it. I tried! That is not to say that I didn't manage to get it home in the back of the C-max, it's just it wasn't a great fit, we couldn't close the rear hatch, so we had to tie it down, and it was more of a moped than motorcycle. Although, to be fair I didn't take the back seats out, I just folded them forward!

Speaking of hauling loads, even with the rear seats folded up there was plenty of space in the rear. I'm not saying it was massive, or that I haven't had better cars for hauling loads, but this is a long way from the worst. I reckon that it would swallow the weekly shop with ease, and for going away on holiday, this would've have swallowed our suitcases without any drama. Happily I will never find this out for myself. But the load area is big.

In the back I have no idea what my two little Monsters thought about it as they never went in it. However, while I was sitting in it trying my best to scrub it clean it wasn't too bad. I must've been in there for well over an hour scrubbing the seats with upholstery cleaner, and giving all the plastics a good wipe down with WD-40, but it wasn't too bad of a place to sit.  Of course, it goes without saying that after it was clean it was far more pleasant, although, if I'm honest I would've liked to have got it cleaner, but whatever some of those stains on the seats were, they were there for good!

 Upfront, although I didn't spend a lot of time driving it, But I did spend several hours cleaning it, and much like the back seats I did get it clean(er), but not as clean as I would've liked! Everything was sticky to the touch. I scrubbed all the hard and soft plastics down with sugar soap before wiping it off with clean water, and finally a good going over with Mr Sheen. It looked better, but it wasn't great, still, at least it wasn't sticky. The plus side to all this cleaning was that I spent a fair amount of time in the seats, and although not driving it I did find them to be quite comfortable. After scrubbing out the whole interior it did look better inside, however I never did manage to get the smell of wet dog out of the car, although hanging a cluster of Mr Trees from the rear view mirror has helped.

Under the bonnet beats the throbbing heart of the beast, an 1800cc Zetec petrol engine! It's not a bad engine, although I think it does still need a fair amount of tlc to get the best from it. But that said it does pull the C-max along OK. It's not particularly fast, and I think loading it up with people and luggage might find you shifting down several times in order to pull it up a hill. But I think that this is more due to the fact that the car seems to be a bit tired and worn out, rather than the design of the car its self, but a bigger engine would've made it a better drive.

The thing is, the Focus C-max, and the Focus CC are probably very similar animals under the skin, but the CC is just so much more joyful to drive than the C-max. My guess is this is because the CC is not only less playworn than the C-max, but it's probably lighter, almost certainly more aerodynamic, and it has an engine that is 200cc bigger in capacity. When you add all those factors together with the prettier bodystyle it just makes the CC a more attractive car to own all together. The C-max is averagely average, but the CC is averagely average, but with a bit of pep to it, a bit of life, a bit of style!

The C-max is not a bad looking car, or atleast, it's inoffensive to look at. But it does look a bit bloated. I think it's proportions are a little bit off, much like designers at Ford looked at the Focus estate, and just stretched the body upwards. From an economic stand point thats probably the best way forward, I mean the Focus is a good car, so why not start with that as a base? My question is however, why make a Focus C-max in the first place? I wonder what it's purpose is in the Ford line up? You've got the Focus in all it's guises, hatchback, saloon, estate, CC, all with five seats so that seems to be all the bases covered. If you need a bigger car, get a Mondeo, need to carry more people, get a Galaxy? Both the C-max, and the S-max for that matter would appear to be in a category of their own, a category that is pretty much covered by the rest of the cars in the Ford line up. Was there someone in the design team who said, OK, we've got the Focus, and the Mondeo, but we need to have one of each of these models for people who like to drive wearing a Top hat? I don't know, but what I do know is that there's obviously a market for them both as you see plenty of them out and about, and they've been selling them both for well over ten years now, so obviously the market exists. Although, not once have I seen someone driving one in the Top hat! As for mine...

Well, away it goes, sold as spares or repair due to the tyres as much as anything, but thankfully it's gone now. It will always be indelibly marked in my list of cars as car number 87, a car that I never wanted, but bought anyway. A car that I am actually still quite disappointed, and actually a bit disgusted at myself for buying it in the first place! I do however wonder that if in twenty to thirty years from now there's going to be guys like me restoring and modifying them, and excitedly telling everyone about their cool Ford C-max on motoring forums. Twenty odd years from now, in the future when everyone is saying what a cool car the first generation C-max was, I'll be able to say that I had one, and it was cool! I may even show them these photos. But as for right here, right now... Erm... Not so much! As Prince Charles might say about my automotive back catalogue, with the addition of the 2004 Ford C-max to my list it now looks like a monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend!